Vantage point

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Focusing On The Wrong Glitz

I was watching a special program on NDTV today which focused on the farmer suicides in Vidarbha. Apparently the Prime Minister is now planning to visit Vidarbha. The story talked of a phenomenon called "Suicide Tourism", where VIPs keep visiting the region, making sympathy calls to families of the latest suicide victims.

I could almost predict what would follow next. Sure enough, Sreenivasan Jain headed to the glitzier parts of Nagpur, wondering aloud how Nagpur was booming when the farmers in Vidarbha were committing suicides. He interviewed a few youngsters in a CCD outlet, and left with a very condescending comment - "Well, i hope we've at least made you think."

I really wish the media would understand that the people partying in the hotels of Nagpur, and drinking 80-rupee-coffees are spending their own money. Not just their own money, but their own hard-earned money. It would make more sense for such a story to take the camera crew and show the many times glitzier lives lead by our politicians. That glitz, paid for by unscrupulous means, is more causally linked to the suffering of India's poor, than the glitz in the malls of Nagpur.

It would also make sense to calculate how much of the taxpayer's money has been wasted in all these VIP visits. The helicopter fuel, the security, and other expenses linked to these "suicide tourists" could easily have helped provide relief to dozens of farmers contemplating suicides.